Previous studies indicate that the expression of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptor α (PDGFRα) dramatically increases the ability of fibroblasts to induce experimental proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR). The purpose of this study was to determine whether PDGFRα contributed to the PVR potential of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, one of the most abundant cell types in PVR membranes.
PDGFRα expression in human ARPE19 cells was increased or decreased by stably expressing the PDGFRα cDNA or short hairpin (sh) RNA directed at PDGFRα, respectively. The level of PDGFRα expression in the resulting panel of cell lines was either barely detectable (KD), standard (similar to the level of primary RPE cells), or overexpressed approximately 80-fold. Western blot analysis was used to assess the level of p53 and the activation state of PDGFRα and Akt. The following cellular responses were monitored: proliferation, apoptosis, and contraction. The PVR potential of cells was tested in a rabbit model of PVR in which cells were coinjected with platelet-rich plasma into the vitreous.
Comparison of KD and overexpressing cells indicated that high-level expression of PDGFRα dramatically augmented signaling events, cellular responses, and the PVR potential of ARPE19 cells. However, all these outcomes were also significantly increased, albeit not as robustly, by PDGFRα expression to the level typically present in RPE cells.
Even though RPE cells express substantially less PDGFRα than fibroblasts, it significantly boosts PVR-related signaling events, cellular responses, and the PVR potential of ARPE19 cells. These studies suggest that inhibiting activation, signaling, or both by PDGFRα has the potential to prevent the development of PVR.